An eye-opening read about a doctor in the trenches
How Dr. Nour Akhras has worked to save children’s lives in war zones around the world.
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I was recently given the privilege of reading a pre-publication draft of a book by Dr. Nour Akhras, a Syrian-American pediatric diseases specialist at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in the Chicago suburbs.
Dr. Akhras and I met 10 years ago, when we worked together on a team of women epidemiologists, researchers and journalists to crowdmap sexualized violence in the ongoing Syria war — the first attempt to publicly track such violence in a live conflict.
Her new book, Just One: A Journey of Perseverance and Conviction, has given me a look into Dr. Akhras’s remarkable life and purpose. Not only is she a specialist who cares for children, she is unusually brave: She goes to war zones to treat kids suffering in unheard-of ways. She visits Syrian refugee camps, and — even while pregnant — goes to work in the nightmare that is Yemen. Her book tackles with humor and grace what it has been like for her to live in a country that has looked at her, a Muslim, with suspicion, since 9/11, all while she has accomplished more than most have ever done to help children of war in desperate need.
Here is an edited chapter from her insightful and compelling book, which you can purchase on Amazon, here.
Hatay, Turkey, 2011
I have a very sensitive GI (gastrointestinal) system. That is one of the first personal facts I told my husband about myself when we first met. I always get sick when I travel internationally. So not 24 hours into our trip to Turkey, I spent most of the night and some of the morning in the bathroom. I remained unwell intermittently for the rest of the journey, so much so that one of the other physicians had told his wife upon our return that he thought I might be pregnant. His wife sent me a congratulatory message when we got home. “How crazy,” I thought. “Who goes on a medical mission while pregnant?”
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